Presented by Yamaha Motor Corp USA and Warrior Boats LLC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2017
Contact: Denny Fox, 920-505-0122
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™)
One From Column A, One from Column B: Fishing Bridges Takes AWWS Nitro Boats Open On Lake Winnie
Tickling the bottom with long-lined Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows in the current around bridge columns near Oshkosh was the $8,000 trick that finally brought long-time bridesmaids Jeff Nuechterlein and Ryan Foster to the altar, winning their first AIM Weekend Walleye Series tournament, at Sunday’s (May 21) Nitro Boats Open on the Lake Winnebago system.
Nuechterlein, of Greenville, WI, runs a 2017 Nitro ZV21 cranked to a 350 Verado, and operates Eyetime Guide Service. Foster, from nearby Kaukauna, runs Crazy Eyes Guide Service. And both had to call on their decades of experience on their home water to pound out a win, with 16.25 pounds of fish in about as difficult conditions as one can experience and still boat fish both prior to and during the event.
“Three days prior to the tournament we were greeted with a nasty cold front, strong winds and cold. It dropped the water temperature in the lake about 10 degrees by the time the tournament kicked off,” Nuechterlein said. That’s trouble. In fact, he said, over three days of prefishing, they didn’t put one walleye in the boat. Zero.
With more west-northwest wind for Sunday, he said, they knew what they wanted—needed—to do. “We made the decision to go upstream. We saw current around the bridge pillars,” he said. That was their clue that they could use their somewhat secret presentation they’ve developed over the years for just such situations.
That part really wasn’t a secret, as it was the choice of probably 80 percent of the 100-boat field on Sunday. However, many went into the upper river and lakes. The only fish willing to hit there, he said, were smaller males, and once teams got those, most also looked for target fish to upgrade. But they were, for the most part, uncooperative.
“So we dropped down instead to a couple of bridges that were there and presented crankbaits to walleye that were tight to the bottom,” he continued. It worked. They had five fish by 10:30 a.m., and they never upgraded. They couldn’t if they’d wanted. “The wind switched again, which turned the fish off. We tried a few other options but they didn’t produce any more walleyes.”
Their carded fish ranged from 25-3/4, to 15-3/4 inches. How’d they do it? He’s shy, but did reveal most of their technique.
“The system is unique. I can’t give away all the details, but what we did is we were long-lining bridge columns using common baits like No. 7 Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows in colors like firetiger and clown. They seem to work the best, but we also used a variety of custom-painted Shads from Viper Tackle. And, we’re using a specific type of line to get the job done,” he said.
“We try to target the 8- to 16-foot range because we’re not having to put out a ton of line because you want those baits tickling bottom, and if they’re not, you’re not getting reactionary strikes from those fish.”
Speed, he added, also was important. “If it’s a strong current, our downstream presentation is fast, upwards of 3 mph. Going upstream, we’re creeping along while sliding left and right. We both have 20 years-plus on this water and we kinda know where to go when faced with certain wind conditions for the day,” Nuechterlein said.
They probably cruised the same river stretches 25 or 30 times, he said. “It’s very tedious and time-consuming, covering those key areas along the bridge columns.” But, it paid off.
While they recorded several top 10 finishes in AIM events, this was their first win. “The win was the one that was elusive for us and we finally got it. We promote AIM pretty heavily in Wisconsin. It’s a really good way to preserve the resource and it allows us to constantly pound on fish, seek out the big fish and get big weights in walleye world.”
The second place team of Nicholas Schrader, Menasha, WI, and Joe Trzcinski, Neenah, fished near the winners, but used a different technique, and also agreed on the weather. They left Sunday $2,400 happier after boating 11.89 pounds.
“It was a horrible fishing situation. We had horrible weather fronts move through. It would be nice, then rain, cold, then rain. I spent three vacation days pre-fishing and fishing before work and every day it was so hard to pinpoint fish. We finally decided Sunday morning to go to the river because that’s where the most consistent bite was,” Schrader said.
Dragging jigs did the trick for them, including one fish that puts them in the running for the Big Fish Thursday award, a 27-inch rock lounger. Dragging jigs, he said, was his partner Joe’s area of expertise.
“He ‘s pretty good at doing that and he showed me. We got better and better as we went. It’s all by feel, going with the current and letting them go out and keeping the jig where you could feel it on the bottom. Most of the time we used a 1/8-ounce jig and varied between crawlers and leeches,” he said.
Like so many other top finishers this season, this was their first AIM tournament. “I like the Catch-Record-Release™ format. My dad and uncles fish a lot and the catch-and-hold tournaments over the years killed quite a few fish when they tried to release them,” he said.
The rest of the top five: In third and earning $1,800 for 10.25 pounds were Mike Kasper, Neenah, and Reid Raschke, Appleton. Fourth place and $1,500 for 9.33 pounds went to Lynn Niklasch, Oconomowoc, and Mark Kumorkiewicz, Pleasant Prairie. In fifth were Greg Golliher and Randy Harwood, both of Oshkosh, receiving $1,300 for 8.38 pounds.
Now, AIM’s Sunday events take a holiday break as teams that qualified last year ready and strategize for the 2017 AIM Warrior Boats/Yamaha Outboards National Championship June 2-3 on the Mississippi River at Everts Resort near Hager City, WI. Follow all the action at AIM’s Facebook page, AIMfishing.com, and at ProChattrr.
Anglers Insight Marketing LLC (AIM™) is a unique tournament organization created and owned by many of the most accomplished and recognizable professional walleye anglers, along with others who share the mission of advancing competitive walleye fishing and making it sustainable into the future. AIM is committed to marketing excellence on behalf of its tournament competitors, the tournament host communities, and the brands that partner with it. AIM is also committed to maintaining healthy fisheries across the nation by the development of the exclusive AIM Catch-Record-Release™ format, which is integral to its dynamic events and unparalleled consumer engagement. For more information about AIM™, AIM Pro Walleye Series™, AIM Weekend Walleye Series, AIM sponsors and AIM anglers, visit www.aimfishing.com.
AIM Presenting Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. and Warrior Boats, LLC.
AIM Supporting Sponsors: Mercury Marine, Nitro Boats, Navionics, Garmin, Power Pole, Worldwide Marine Insurance, AirWave Pedestals, Off Shore Tackle, Vibrations Tackle, Pro Chattrr, National Fleet Graphics, Gemini Sport Marketing, Warrior Boat Center.